How to afford an electric car

For cars, the future is electric. With the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles banned from 2030, the demand for electric cars is booming. Sales recently reached a record high. Given that transport is the single biggest source of UK emissions, this is heartening news. The only problem is that electric vehicles (EVs) tend to cost more to buy than cars with conventional combustion engines. So how can you afford one?

Calculate the running costs

While EVs might often cost more than their traditional counterparts, their running costs are far less – making them ultimately more affordable not less. Indeed, research by LV Insurance compared the combined purchase and running costs of some popular EV models with their petrol or diesel equivalents. Over seven years of ownership the EVs worked out cheaper.

Seek government help

The UK government offers a maximum grant of £1,500, if you buy a new car costing under £32,000. Grants for installing home chargers, capped at £350, are available to those living in flats or rented accommodation – for further info contact the Office for Zero Emissions Vehicles.

The Scottish government offers interest-free loans for electric car purchases – up to £28,000 for a new one or up to £20,000 for a used one. The Energy Savings Trust administers them.

Research best value models

The price of electric cars changes regularly, but you can find small EVs for around £20,000. These have limited ranges – but are perfect if you only drive short distances, which is more common than thought. However, if you need more range and room, Paul Clarke, editor of The Green Car Guide recommends the MG5, costing just under £30,000, as one of the best value family EVs.

Buy second-hand

You could look at Autotrader, Cinch or The AA for a used EV. Reliable, practical models that have been around for a while include the Nissan LEAF and the Renault Zoe. Because electric cars don’t have gears they tend not to have as many faults as traditional petrol or diesel cars.

Subscribe

You could try one of the new electric car subscription services. Onto’s monthly subscription includes insurance, servicing and free charging at over 12,500 public charging points. With prices starting from £379 per month for a Volkswagen e-up!, it works out cheaper than traditional car leasing. Unlike a lease, you don’t pay a deposit, you’re not tied into a contract and you can cancel or swap to a different EV on a month-by-month basis.

Elmo is a similar service. It offers What Car’s best city car 2021, the Fiat 500e, from £449 per month. Or you could also look at Electric Zoo.

Plan for future low-cost charging tech

One interesting development is something called ‘vehicle to grid’ technology. It means drivers charge their cars overnight – when demand for electricity and its costs are low – and later sell surplus electricity back when prices are high, to ensure ultra-low EV charging rates. Octopus Energy and Ovo Energy are both doing trials with customers.

Invest in the future

As the energy crisis rages on and prices at the pump remain sky high, EVs are already cheaper overall than petrol and diesel cars. As the transition to electric cars gathers apace, their initial price tag continues to come down too. With air pollution killing 36,000 people prematurely each year and road transport the biggest source of carbon pollution, the main cause of climate change, the clean driving revolution is going to do so much for both people and the planet. If you can join it now, it’s a fantastic investment in a cleaner, greener world.

 

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